Oil, potash, tobacco, banking: EU imposes targeted sanctions on Belarusian economy

On June 24, the Council of the EU introduced new restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime to respond to the escalation of serious human rights violations in Belarus and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists, as well as to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021 and the related detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.

“The new targeted economic sanctions include the prohibition to directly or indirectly sell, supply, transfer or export to anyone in Belarus equipment, technology or software intended primarily for use in the monitoring or interception of the internet and of telephone communications, and dual-use goods and technologies for military use and to specified persons, entities or bodies in Belarus. Trade in petroleum products, potassium chloride (‘potash’), and goods used for the production or manufacturing of tobacco products is restricted. Furthermore, access to EU capital markets is restricted, and providing insurance and re-insurance to the Belarusian government and Belarusian public bodies and agencies is prohibited. Lastly, the European Investment Bank will stop any disbursement or payment under any existing agreements in relation to projects in the public sector, and any existing Technical Assistance Service Contracts. Member states will also be required to take actions to limit the involvement in Belarus of multilateral development banks of which they are members,” the official statement reads.

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According to the Council, today’s decision fully implements the European Council conclusions of 24 and 25 May 2021, in which EU heads of state and government called on the Council to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines, and to adopt the necessary measures, including additional listings of persons and entities on the basis of the relevant sanctions framework, and to adopt further targeted economic sanctions.

As reported earlier, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was visiting Belgium and Luxembourg at the invitation of HR/VP Josep Borrell. She discussed the fifth sanctions package against the regime with the head of the EU diplomacy on June 21, when EU foreign ministers endorsed sectoral sanctions on Belarus, hitting parts of its potash, oil and banking sectors.

On the same day, the EU approved the fourth package of personal sanctions against the Belarusian regime. The bloc froze assets and imposed visa bans on 78 Belarusian officials (including members of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s family) and 8 companies.

A total of 166 persons and 15 entities are currently subject to restrictive measures, which comprise an asset freeze applicable to both individuals and entities, and travel ban on individuals.

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Belsat.eu, following consilium.europa.eu